This is a bed plate. Featuring the soldier’s name, regiment and number, they were used to mark allocated beds in barracks from about 1900 until 1939.
This bedplate is marked to 4700 Shaw, J. The Manchester Regiment and is believed to date from the Boer War (1899-1902).
When a soldier’s bed was laid out for inspection a plate like this was often hung on it. This enabled the inspecting officer to see that the man’s name and number matched the numbers on the clothing and equipment laid out for inspection. Vacant bed spaces had to be accounted for during inspections, so the plates could be turned around to show the word ‘DUTY’, explaining a soldier’s absence.